Call on PM for New Homelessness National Targets
29 September 2015 at 11:24 am
Welfare Not for Profit, Mission Australia, is calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to commit to new national targets to halve homelessness by 2025.
Launching Mission Australia’s 10 step Action Plan to Reduce Homelessness, CEO Catherine Yeomans, speaking at the Linking Housing and Homelessness Services Conference in Sydney, urged the PM to put the issue of homelessness back on the agenda.
Yeomans called on the Government to commit to firm targets to halve youth homelessness and halve the number of low income Australians living in rental stress – currently standing at over 450,000 people.
“We know what works to fix homelessness. Prevent people in high risk groups from becoming homeless, fund evidence-based programs for people who are already homeless and ensure enough homes for people on low incomes,” Yeomans said.
“We can reach these targets because we know what needs to be done. But it requires strong leadership, a commitment from all governments to increase funding and to guarantee it over the next five years.”
Mission Australia is one of largest Not for Profit organisations in Australia, providing assistance to over 300,000 people a year, including many people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
“At the last Census around 105,000 Australians were without a safe, stable bed for the night. The next Census count will be held next year. Sadly, we predict this will show an increase in the numbers of people who are homeless, rather than a decrease,” Yeomans said.
“Over the past few years, the political focus, the funding, and the continuity of commitment has not been there. But we have a new Prime Minister, and the Review of Federation is underway. It’s a golden opportunity to get housing and homelessness back on track again.
“We are calling for the PM to enshrine these targets in a new national housing and homelessness agreement, which gives certainty of funding rather than the stop-start arrangements of the recent past.”
Yeomans said tackling the issue requires Federal Government leadership but also a united approach from state governments, the community sector, corporations and individuals.
Over the next few months Yeomans said she will be travelling around the country meeting with housing ministers, bureaucrats and community sector leaders to share the 10 step Action Plan and seek their support.
“We need to harness the support of everyone to bring these numbers down, rather than continue their upwards trajectory. It’s a national disgrace that there are so many people who are homeless, especially when you consider that over 40 per cent of these are young people,” she said.
“This is a comprehensive plan that focuses on tangible solutions to prevent and reduce homelessness as well as providing more housing – the two cannot be examined in isolation if we want to make a real difference.”
Mission Australia said a better focus on prevention, meeting people’s needs once they became homeless, and the provision of more social and affordable housing was needed.
“We know that helping someone keep their home is much better than responding to their increased needs once they are homeless – better for them as individuals, and cheaper for governments,” Yeomans said.
“So we need to help people before they reach crisis point. We know what the risk factors are – people experiencing domestic and family violence, young people experiencing family conflict, people exiting out of home care, prison and other state facilities, and people on low incomes who are paying too much of it in rent.
“When people do become homeless, the right services need to be in place to help them into housing, and address the causes of their homelessness. We know that ‘Housing First’ models work – whereby people have a secure long-term tenancy that provides a solid foundation to address their other issues.
“And we are never going to end homelessness if our nation’s housing affordability issue is not addressed. Housing affordability has had the biggest effect on people on low incomes who are struggling to pay rent. Families who pay over 30 per cent of their income on rent have a higher risk of falling into homelessness. We need to build more social and affordable housing properties.”